What the World Can Teach Us About Cooking Vegetables
Chili-spiked carrots. Skillet-charred Brussels sprouts. Mashed potatoes brightened with harissa and pistachios. These are just three ways to put vegetables in the center of your plate.
Here in the U.S., meat is cheap and has been in the center of the plate for centuries. The rest of the world, however, knows how to approach vegetables, grains and beans not only with respect but with a fresh, lively approach, one that transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary.
To get a vegetable education, we traveled to Athens to learn how winter vegetable stews could taste light and bright, not hearty and heavy. In Cairo, we tasted eggplant and potatoes that punched up flavor with bold pops of texture from whole spices. And in Puglia, Italy, we had a revelatory bite of zucchini enriched by ricotta cheese and lemon.
This is a world of high-heat roasts, unctuous braises, drizzles of honey, and stir-fries aromatic with ginger and garlic. And with 250 recipes, the possibilities are nearly endless: a head of cauliflower can become Cauliflower Shawarma; Smothered Cauliflower with Tomatoes, Capers and Raisins; Sichuan Dry-Fried Cauliflower; Pasta with Cauliflower and Toasted Breadcrumbs; Cauliflower-Chickpea Salad with Dill-Lemon Dressing; or Curried Cauliflower Rice with Peas and Cashews.